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Unread 05-20-2021, 01:49 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

The Snare Drummer’s Plight

The highlight of the evening is Bolero.

The snare drummer begins the famous beat,

the marrow of the land of the torero.

The players, who have sprayed themselves with Deet,

ignore the insects swarming in the light

or lighting on the scores. The music’s bite

and lyric passion build each bar, with singing

strings, winds, and brass — while buzzing bugs seek meat.

One gently touches down and starts to eat
blood from the snare drum player’s nose. The stinging

clings like a picador’s sharp lance of worry.

How can he stop to scratch? His part must never

cut out. Time’s poky arrow will not hurry.

Bolero! May it live — not last — forever.

(Appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.)
Unread 05-20-2021, 01:57 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

The Silver of the Stars

We all look at a focal point in motion,

a stick moved by an arm moved by a brain.

We all have ears that listen to the rain

of timbres bouncing off the walls. What notion

had moved a mind to think of such a song,

where flutes echo the silver of the stars,

where oboes, cellos, clarinets, guitars

evoke the forest maples, where a gong

conjures up the Bronze Age? We rehearse—

a group of instruments as differing

as all the suns that make the universe.

Yet as our metals, woods, and drumheads sing,

they link us to the tremolos and trills

that once lulled us in the valleys and the hills.

(Appeared in The Chimaera.)
Unread 05-20-2021, 01:57 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 1,769

Thanks, Brian, Ann, Martin. Some great stuff there :-)

I've just realised 'Poemusicals' looks like musicals by Poe. I quite like that idea. This is new:

Bite too

But I could be a devil to you
I could bite like a tarantula
Right through the skin
And leave my poison dripping
Deliciously unsuspecting
Protecting you from all harm
Except perhaps from these arms
That hold you.
(Faithless, 'Tarantula')

So you think you're a devil. You wish. Come, let's level:
00your bites leave no poison in me.
You have only saliva, mere man, whereas I've a
00true toxin I'll unleash with glee.
You may gnash your incisors and get a few risers
00from thoughts that you're causing me pain,
and that I need protecting. As if. Stop projecting.
00I don't want to tell you again.
I've a secret. I'm hybrid. I’m woman–arachnid.
00Some night I’ll go Tara on you.
I'll be huge, hot and hairy. You'll find me quite scary.
00You'll find that I like to bite too.
Unread 05-20-2021, 02:52 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

Fliss, Wow, that's excellent! Your poem certainly has a bite to it. And the anapests give it a wonderful lilt. Here are some double-dactyls, some of which I wrote for The Spectator (Competition No. 3162) thread.

Melody, harmony,
Sergei Rachmaninoff,
playing on stage, had a
memory slip;

played some wrong notes which, at
Birdland today, would sound
utterly hip!

Mily Balakirev,
though quite inventive, wrote
at a snail’s pace.

He was inspiring, though —
Amateur writers grew
thanks to his grace!

Daniel Barenboim
formed an alliance with
Edward Said.

Launched a youth orchestra—
Jewish and Arab play
What’s to forbid?

Schmorowitz, florowitz,
Vladimir Horowitz
practiced piano from
midnight till noon;

mastered such difficult
works — yet, if pressed, couldn’t
carry a tune!

Simon & Garfunkel,
raised in the Kew Gardens
Hills part of Queens,

started a duo to
tickle girls’ fancies and,
had by their teens!

Sergei Prokofiev,
slammed as a “Formalist,”
landed in straits.

Trying to stifle him—
fools!—did you know he was
One of the greats!

If you want to read others (of mine and fellow Spherians) here is the link to the original thread:

And here are the results:

Last edited by Martin Elster; 05-20-2021 at 03:16 PM.
Unread 05-20-2021, 10:06 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

The Timpanist
(i.m. Alexander Lepak)

No gages graced those drums. No need to look
and check. He went on ear alone. The bowls
of hammered copper rumbled so they shook
the auditorium with thunder-rolls
or purred like surf-washed gravel, gently heaving.
We called him “Big Foot.” Working the tuning pedals,
he managed, though a thousand themes were weaving
contrapuntal mischief round the kettles,
to nail his pitches. Lowering his nose
as if he were about to smell the skin
or whisper secrets to it—in this pose,
he’d flick it with a finger, tuning in
to harmony, polyphony and scale,
mount music’s rolling cumuli, and sail.

* * *

A Grand Slam at the Opera

The timpanist would catch his baseball games
on headphones in the pit throughout each rest
while divas trilled about their ill-starred flames.
One night, as opera and the game progressed,
amid the final fiery duet,
a shout made Carmen all but drop her shawl,
a tone of triumph no one will forget —
a thrilled “Home run!” resounded through the hall.
Unread 05-20-2021, 11:50 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

Posted this planet poem in the wrong thread.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 05-20-2021 at 11:52 PM.
Unread 05-21-2021, 12:05 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7,629

Quick Change

     backstage at The Nutcracker

The oboe sighs its last insinuation.
Applause. I tense. I ought to hear her bare
feet in the hallway. Flutes start shrilling. There!
The harem-girl trots up for transformation.

I fight the hooks-and-eyes and perspiration
that hold her clothes on. Something rips. I swear.
Applause. No time. I hurriedly prepare
her tights. The music’s much too fast. Damnation!

Applause. Just one more song to go, and I’m
still fumbling with the buckle of her shoe!
We hoist the massive, domelike skirt in place.
I fasten it. Applause. I paint her face
with Mother Ginger’s clown-lips, just in time.

From gorgeous to grotesque, so fast.
From gorgeous to grotesque, so fast. So true.

First published in Lucid Rhythms. Since this poem bewildered a lot of people, I should note that there is applause between each of the following variations in Tchaicovsky's Nutcracker ballet: Arabian dancers (Coffee), Chinese dancers (Tea), Russian dancers (Candy Canes), French dancers (Mirlitons - Marzipan Flutes), Mother Ginger/Gigogne and her Polichinelles (Ginger Snaps - small clown-children who emerge from her giant skirt). Traditionally, Mother Ginger is played by a man in drag, but in my daughters' youth ballet she was usually played by a teenaged girl who had also been cast as an Arabian dancer.

Here's a sequel, a few years later:

Final Performance

     backstage at The Nutcracker (2011)

It hurts to watch her watching them. It's plain
she'd love to join the other girls her age--
the dainty, tutued Mirlitons onstage.
Her clownish greasepaint doesn't hide her pain.

She's next. Her heavy hoopskirt will contain
Polichinelles...and yellow-purple-sage
bruising down one leg. I try to gauge
her stamina. I only ascertain

her stubbornness. She knows this is the last
Nutcracker her failing heart will give her.
The music starts. She radiates delight.

I smile. Then freeze. Miss Sylvia recast
that high-kicked skip as walking. Jenn! I shiver.
She'll high-kick if it kills her. And it might.

She'd just had a heart catheterization a few days before, hence the bruising down her leg (it had gone in through a femoral artery). Thanks to her heart donor, my elder daughter is now a college graduate, married, and living happily in Toronto.

Depending on how much time you have, someone whose name rings a bell also published a very long poem inspired by Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 05-21-2021 at 12:06 PM.
Unread 05-21-2021, 12:01 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

My Singing Basenji

My Basenji does not, of course, bark,
but she sings just as well as a lark.
**A coloratura
**who sang with bravura,
in the opera world, she left her “mark.”

Acclaimed for her excellent ear,
she sang twelve different operas a year.
**Her pitch was so sure
**and her tone was so pure
that her listeners, enthralled, would all cheer.

Her voice, loud and clear as a bell,
transfixed you, caused teardrops to swell.
**Her voice never cracked.
**The theaters were packed.
All were awed till the last curtain fell.

Her fan club consisted of bats,
opossums, raccoons, mice and rats,
**badgers, beavers and bears,
**humans, horses and hares,
coyotes … and even some cats.

Then one evening while singing Menotti
at the Met with the great Pavarotti,
**in the opening scene
**something quite unforeseen—
she squatted and out popped a potty

right on the proscenium stage!
The director went into a rage.
**The orchestra stopped,
**the curtain then dropped,
and they threw the poor dog in a cage.

That was it for my canine’s career.
But she still loves to sing, never fear!
**Though she ain’t no bow-wow-er,
**genes combined to endow ’er
with a voice that is pure crystal clear.

Of late she sings oldies and folk
and jazz. (Do you think I would joke?)
**She’s now singing for me
**with her paw on my knee
as we sit in our yard by the oak.

(Appeared in Lighten Up Online.)
Unread 05-21-2021, 12:14 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 1,769

Julie, great to see you here. Congrats for being published in Lucid Rhythms. I'm familiar with the performance of The Nutcracker, so I don't find the applauses odd. It's a wonderful poem, likewise 'Final Performance', and I've bookmarked the very long piece.

Martin, thanks for all the poems and links. Thanks also for enjoying my latest modest piece. Here's a sonnet inspired by one of Debussy's preludes (I'll rework it at some stage):

The hills of Anacapri

The world may hold much higher hills than these
00above Capri, quite modest in their heights,
not looming over close Tyrrhenian seas
00but leaning, taking in the sloping sights
of whitewashed homes on peaceful little lanes
00and veggie gardens in their leafy lines
and shops for cheeses, olives, gathered grains
00for fresh-baked breads, and jars of sun-washed wines;
yes, something more than majesty is here
00amidst the cliffs and stones and tropic plants,
the calls of gulls and goats that soothe the ear
00together with the monastery chants –
it is the spirit, kind and full of mirth,
such happiness on this Campanian earth.
Unread 05-21-2021, 01:17 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 7,450

Brian - I enjoyed both of your poems. Gesualdo was certainly a character!
I read that Mozart actually died because his doctor drew too much blood from him and he went into shock. But here is another hypothesis I just found:

Annie - I love the combination of Ella’s singing in the background during the N’s meal and how it has a huge influence on how she (the N) assesses the taste of her dinner.

Fliss - I really enjoyed “The Hills of Anacapri.” It’s so image-filled and lyrical! Debussy, by the way, is one of my favorite composers. Here is a poem with both planets and music. It’s a blues sonnet.

Singing the Blues Between Mars and Jupiter

I sit here on this oblong asteroid,

atop this pirouetting asteroid,

recalling the adventures we enjoyed,

those times we tumbled in low gravity,

the thrill of tumbling in low gravity

like butterflies when you and I were “we.”

I hurtle through the void among the dust.

I hurtle with the stones and with the dust.

Sweep me to Earth on a tangent solar gust.

Once more we’ll skip and play in mutual orbit.

We’ll trip and dance and dart in mutual orbit

and feel each wave of moonlight and absorb it.

Come visit. Girl, don’t give me the cold shoulder.

Unfreeze the ancient ices on this boulder!

(Appeared in Tilt-a-Whirl: A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms.)

Last edited by Martin Elster; 05-21-2021 at 01:40 PM.
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